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How To Probate A Will In Georgia

Probating A Will In Georgia - How To Probate A Will In Georgia

Wondering how to probate a will in Georgia?

This article will go over everything related to:

  • probating a will in Georgia
  • how to probate a will without an attorney
  • does a will have to be probated?
  • the cost to probate a will
  • what happens if a will is not probated
  • how long do you have to probate a will

Let’s dig in.

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Probating A Will In Georgia

Let’s cover some basics of probating a will under Georgia’s probate laws.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process your estate goes through when you die.

Probate is a court-supervised process that:

  • proves the validity of your will
  • appoints your executor
  • oversees the distribution of your estate

If you have a last will and testament or trust, you can clearly define your wishes for your estate.

But if you don’t have one, it’s up to the probate courts to determine how to settle your estate.

How Long Do You Have To Probate A Will In Georgia?

You have 5 years to probate a will in Georgia.

You have 18 months to file for probate after someone dies.

Georgia law states that you have to file for probate in a “reasonable amount of time.”

The “5 years to probate a will” is AFTER you have filed for probate.

How To Probate A Will In Georgia

Let’s talk about how to probate a will in Georgia.

Steps To Probate A Will In Georgia

  1. Find and file the decedent’s will with the Georgia probate courts.
  2. Petition the courts to start the probate process and pay filing fees.
  3. Inventory the estate’s assets.
  4. Inventory the estate’s debts (credit cards, real estate, etc.).
  5. Notify the public of the death in a local newspaper.
  6. Pay off debts and creditors.
  7. Distribute the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries.
  8. Provide the Georgia probate courts with the estate’s accounting.
  9. Close probate.

What Has To Go Through Probate In Georgia

Probate assets are assets that do not have:

  • designated beneficiaries (i.e., if your 401k has a named beneficiary)
  • survivorship rights (i.e., your spouse)

These are assets that have to go through probate in Georgia.

An estate’s assets include things like:

  • real estate
  • retirement accounts
  • life insurance policies
  • bank accounts
  • personal property

Personal property is going to be things like:

  • bank accounts
  • investment accounts (401k, Roth IRAs, HSAs, etc.)
  • stocks and bonds
  • vehicles, boats, and airplanes
  • jewelry, artwork, furnishing, etc.
  • business interests
  • real estate

Our estate planning attorneys can help you determine how to split these assets in your will.

And we can create Georgia trusts to allow assets to avoid probate.

Let’s talk about how to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney.

What Assets Are Exempt From Probate In Georgia?

Assets that are exempt from probate in Georgia include:

  • property in a trust
  • property held in joint tenancy
  • property held by a surviving spouse
  • life insurance policies
  • retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries
  • bank accounts with “payable on death” clauses

How To Probate A Will In Georgia Without An Attorney

The steps to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney are:

  1. Obtain the death certificate.
  2. Find and file the decedent’s will with the Georgia probate courts.
  3. Petition the courts to start the probate process and pay filing fees.
  4. File the forms to get appointed as the estate’s personal representative.
  5. File the correct standard forms for the probate
  6. Get the letters testamentary (for the executor to gain control of the estate)
  7. Notify the heirs and creditors (i.e., a local newspaper)
  8. Notify the appointed guardian (if there are minor children)
  9. Inventory the estate’s assets.
  10. Inventory the estate’s debts (credit cards, real estate, etc.).
  11. Transfer assets into estate accounts.
  12. File an application for a Certificate of Transfer for real estate.
  13. Pay off debts and creditors.
  14. Pay for funeral expenses.
  15. Distribute the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries.
  16. Provide the Georgia probate courts with the estate’s accounting.
  17. Close probate and discharge yourself as the personal representative.

What Is The Probate Process In Georgia?

The probate process in Georgia is:

  1. Get the death certificate.
  2. Have the will validated.
  3. Get a court order to appoint the executor.
  4. Post a bond.
  5. Inform beneficiaries and creditors.
  6. Inventory and value assets.
  7. Pay all fees and debts off.
  8. Distribute the remaining assets.

Solemn form probate requires the executor to notify beneficiaries and creditors.

Solemn form probate happens if the will’s validity needs to get proven to the probate courts.

If there is not a self-proving affidavit, you have to file “Interrogatories to Witness to Will.”

These have to get filled out by the persons who witnessed the signing of the will.

Common form probate does not require notifications.

Common form probate can happen if you have a self-proving will.

These wills have self-proving affidavits with them.

Meaning the testator had the will notarized for the probate proceedings.

FAQs About The Georgia Probate Process

These are some of the questions we get from families probating a will in Georgia.

Does A Will Have To Be Probated In Georgia?

Do you have to probate a will in Georgia?

Yes, you have to probate a will in Georgia under Georgia laws.

If you don’t you are breaking the law and could get fined and jail time.

What Happens If You Don’t Probate A Will In Georgia?

If you don’t probate a will in Georgia, your estate will get distributed per intestate laws.

Meaning your estate will go to your living relatives.

If you have no relatives, then the estate will go to the state of Georgia.

Can An Estate Be Settled Without Probate In Georgia?

With careful estate planning, you can settle an estate without probate in Georgia.

You do this with trusts, charitable giving, and beneficiary designations.

Reach out to our law firms’ probate attorneys for help with this.

How To Probate An Estate Without A Will In Georgia

To probate an estate without a will in Georiga, file a Petition for Letters of Administration.

This tells the courts they need to appoint an estate administrator in the state of Georgia.

They will give the administrator letters of testamentary for the deceased person’s assets.

The personal representative will:

What Happens If A Will Is Not Probated In Georgia?

If a will is not probated, the courts can:

  • hold the executor in contempt
  • charge them with fines
  • imprison them

If a will is not probated, the executor could face criminal and civil charges.

And the beneficiaries can sue them for the assets they were supposed to inherit.

How Much Does An Estate Have To Be Worth To Go To Probate?

If your estate is worth more than $10,000, it has to go through probate in Georgia.

You can file a small estate affidavit if it’s less than $10,000.

This allows you to have a simplified probate process in Georgia.

Transfer Of Property After Death Without A Will In Georgia

If you die without a will in Georgia, property gets transferred to loved ones via intestate laws.

If there are no family members, the remaining assets will go to the state of Georgia.

Do Trusts Go Through Probate?

No, trusts do not go through the probate process in Georgia.

Property in a living trust does not go through probate either.

Property inside of a living trust has named beneficiaries.

And it avoids probate because of this.

Getting Year’s Support

Spouses and minor children can petition the court for year’s support.

Year’s support gives loved ones money before the estate pays debts and creditors.

Year’s support needs to get filed by the probate lawyer or surviving spouse.

A year’s support is financial support for 12 months of expenses for the family.

How To Probate A Will In Georgia

If you want the best probate attorneys to represent you, fill out the form below.

We have the experience needed to ensure that your rights are protected.

This means that you don’t wrongfully lose assets to creditors.

We also make sure that the probate process is smooth and fair.

This means you don’t get raked over the coals financially.

After you fill out the form below, we will set up your free consultation.

Talk soon.

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